This 5th and final 2019 event in the Founders Series dives into the "Start-Up Scene" here in Chicago - how is Chicago different from NY, LA, Boulder? How is Chicago's scene and companies developing - who are the ones to watch? What does 2020 hold in terms of innovation and disruption? This is a must-see conversation taking a "pulse" on Chicago's start-ups, emerging brands, and growth/scaling food and beverage companies!
Join us for the 5th and final 2019 event in our Founders Series - a CFBN series presented in partnership with CA Branding, Fifty Gazelles, and PreBrands. This 5-part series of events focuses on creating conversations and connections for founders’ from the growing and scaling companies of the Chicagoland start-up food scene. The Founders Series combines food, cutting edge conversation, and a bit of networking for a happy hour well spent.
We are also excited to be hosting this final event at The Hatchery - a hub for start-ups on Chicago's west side!
Our speakers & moderator for this conversation:
(Moderator) Steve Gaither, SVP Creative & Branding, CA Branding
Steve Gaither is the SVP of CA Branding (formerly JB Chicago), a division of CA Fortune. CA Branding is a creative and marketing agency focused on consumer brands whose clients range from larger companies like Smithfield Foods and Tetrapak and emerging brands including Real Good Foods and Protes. As a mentor at the Good Food Business Accelerator, ICNC and The Hatchery, his relationships with the entrepreneurs led him to co-found the Windy City Troublemakers, an early-stage food brands group in Chicago. Steve was formerly a partner in Spiral Sun Ventures and Windy City Food Brands, where he and his fellow CPG experts provide the operational know-how and go-to market strategies that help brands accelerate their growth. Steve graduated from Ball State University (1994) with a degree in Architecture and Planning. He resides in Munster, Indiana with his wife and three children.
Natalie Shmulik, CEO, The Hatchery Chicago
Natalie Shmulik is one of the industry's leading resources for everything food business related. Along with an M.L.A. in Gastronomy from Boston University, she has a wide range of experience working with supermarkets, culinary publications, consumer packaged goods companies, and food service establishments. After successfully operating her own restaurant, Natalie was hired as a specialty consultant for one of Ontario’s largest supermarket chains, where she enhanced consumer experiences through educational initiatives. Discovering her passion for innovation, Natalie was brought on as a brand strategist for the first cold brew tea company and later moved to Chicago, Illinois, to run a food business incubator. With over 8 years of food incubation experience, Natalie has gained a unique perspective on the industry and what it takes to launch and grow a successful business. She is best known for her unparalleled perspectives on branding, marketing, and trend forecasting. Natalie is currently the CEO of The Hatchery, a state-of-the-art nonprofit food and beverage incubator and innovation hub.
The Hatchery supports startup food and beverage entrepreneurs in their brand-new, 67,000-square foot facility through private and shared kitchen production space, event and co-working space, a full curriculum of robust offerings, and an on-site micro-lender Accion; and also assists local residents in job training and placement in the food and beverage industry through a variety of programs. Natalie has been featured in publications such as Forbes, Food Dive, WGN Radio, WTTW, Chicago Woman, and Food Business News.
Michael Lavin, Founder & Managing Partner, Germin8 Ventures
Michael founded Germin8 Ventures, which is a venture capital fund that is seeking to improve the global food system and is innovative in its own right, providing both investment and strategic resources to the exceptional founders of transformative food and agtech companies around the world. Michael oversees Germin8’s investing and operations, as well as actively participates on the boards of invested companies. Michael is also a mentor and member at several accelerators and incubators, including the TERRA program at RocketSpace, the Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator, 1871, The Good Food Accelerator, Family Farmed and The Hatchery. Michael’s experience includes extensive investment banking and consulting for clients ranging from the middle market to Fortune 500, as well as internal corporate development advisory for Mesirow Financial, a leading financial services firm with $90 billion of assets under management.
Michael's passion for food and agriculture is authentic and deep rooted having grown up in the industry, working throughout the value chain and completing coursework in agribusiness and agriculture sciences in addition to undergraduate and graduate degrees in Finance. Michael is a proud Chicago native, but regularly commutes to the San Francisco Bay Area, Tel Aviv and other hubs where food meets tech.
Jordan Buckner, CEO & Founder, TeaSquares
Jordan Buckner is the CEO and co-founder of TeaSquares, a line of superfood energy snacks sold in corporate break rooms, Whole Food Markets, and Amazon.com. His personal mission is to create products that enhance people’s lives while giving back and mentoring others to do the same. Forbes awarded Jordan a 30 Under 30 recipient in the food and beverage category in 2018, and graduated from the Good Food Accelerator.
TeaSquares helps people fuel their passions through healthy, functional snacks, while its social mission is to fuel economic development in underserved neighborhoods. TeaSquares gives you the energy to help you reach your aspirations and potential – throughout each day, and in life. Our delicious superfood snacks are developed with nutritionists to help you overcome the valleys of fatigue, giving you immediate and sustained energy to FOCUS on what you need to conquer.
Emily Linett, Associate Manager - Strategic Initiatives, Tyson Ventures
Emily is the Associate Manager of Strategic Initiatives at Tyson Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Tyson Foods. She is responsible for assisting with all aspects of the investment process, from deal sourcing through due diligence. She also prepares materials for investment pitches and assists with portfolio company management, helping to facilitate collaborations between portfolio companies and Tyson Foods. Previously, Emily assisted a variety of food startups in New York City and worked as a corporate sales manager for Hint, where she helped increase product distribution and build brand awareness for one of the fastest-growing flavored waters in the country. Additionally, she has a background in public health research and health education, having worked as a research assistant at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. Emily has a Master of Management Studies from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University and a Bachelor of Science in Public Health from UNC-Chapel Hill. She enjoys “healthifying” recipes and is passionate about improving the food system.
We are excited to feature networking with the following partners:
We will also be featuring sampling with some of our Start-Up Community members:
Networking events with The Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network are an opportunity to access an inclusive network dedicated to bringing together all of the industry players of the greater Chicagoland area to develop meaningful and mutually beneficial business connections. The event provides a great opportunity to enjoy drinks and appetizers and an opportunity to mingle - forging new connections and circling back with contacts from other events, all while experiencing the power of the CFBN network!
Happy Hour beverages and light refreshments will be provided.
We are deeply appreciative of the support of our Sponsor for this event:
The Founder's Series is presented in partnership with:
CA Branding is a Food & Beverage Industry Provider member of the network.
Pre Brands is a Cornerstone Food & Beverage Industry member of the network.
Fifty Gazelles is a Food & Beverage Industry Provider member of the network.
Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network
1 W Monroe Street
Chicago, IL 60603
Tel (312) 525-9653